This post was originally written in June 2011, after I got back from the first ever Eat, Write, Retreat Conference. I’m headed off to the conference again this weekend and with any luck I’ll come back with even just a fraction of the inspiration and energy that I did last time. The Cucumber-Basil Spritzers are one of my favorite summertime drinks – I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
When I was in DC for Eat, Write, Retreat last month, one of my first stops was happy hour at Cuba Libre to catch up with some of my old friends. As instructed by the placard on the bar in front of us, Mary asked the bartender about their “new seasonal drinks.” We were rewarded with a cucumber-basil mojito, which was one of the most deliciously refreshing drinks that I’ve ever had. It didn’t take me long to order another.
I knew I wanted to recreate this drink at home, and thought that it would be perfect for our Memorial Day cookout. However, when Memorial Day rolled around it was so swelteringly hot that the mere thought of alcohol made me nauseous. I didn’t want to abandon the idea of a cucumber-basil drink though, so I reinvented the mojitos as a nonalcoholic spritzer. Despite the lack of rum, these spritzers taste surprisingly close to the drink that they were inspired by. The combination of cucumber, basil, lime, and bubbles instantly relaxes you, and is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. I guarantee that we’ll be enjoying this drink all summer long.
I didn’t want to post a real “recap” post , but Eat, Write, Retreat was so amazing that I can’t help but sharing a little. If you heard about any of the drama that happened at the other “conference that shall not be named” that was held the same weekend, there was none of that at EWR. At all. It was a great group of about 60 attendees, who were all there to learn, grow, and share. The conference had such a community atmosphere to it, and I came home with new friends, new skills, and tons of inspiration. I’ve been to a few other food blogging conferences (Foodbuzz and BlogHer) and, in my opinion, EWR was hands-down the best one. I can’t wait for next year!
Here are a few of the many lessons/inspirational tidbits that I took home with me. Many of which apply not only to blogging, but to life in general:
- Don’t take shortcuts. Always try to make everything better.
- Communicate. Share. Give.
- When traveling, get off the beaten path and explore.
- Don’t strive to be “the next so-and-so.” That’s already been done. Be original.
- Do what you love, do what you love, do what you love. And always be authentic.
- And perhaps most importantly: if your suitcase contains a 3-gallon ziplock bag of dry thyme, you WILL get a note from the TSA informing you that your bag was searched. Even if said bag also contains a griddle pan, a mandolin, and a ridiculous amount of other fantastic swag. (I’m also pretty sure they helped themselves to a few Goo Goo Clusters while they were searching. I can’t say that I blame them.)
- 1 Cucumber
- 2 Limes
- ½ cup Water
- ⅓ cup Sugar
- 8 Basil Leaves
- 1 liter 32 ounces Club Soda
- Peel and seed the cucumber. Add the cucumber and 1/4 cup water to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cucumber is liquefied.
- Make the lime simple syrup by combining sugar, lime zest, and remaining water in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar has melted. Chill until ready to serve. (The cucumber puree and simple syrup will keep for several days in the refrigerator)
- To make the drink: place 2 basil leaves, the juice from 1/2 a lime, and 1 Tbs of your simple syrup in the bottom of a glass. Use the back of a spoon to muddle the basil. Add 2 Tbs cucumber puree and top with 8 oz club soda. Stir gently to mix.
- Sit back, Relax, and Enjoy!